Gallup is heralding the finding that given the false choice between environmental protection and economic growth, Americans now choose the economy:
For the first time in Gallup’s 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.
The premise of the question is false. As we have learned in the last twenty-five years since Gallup began asking this question, environmental protection actually strengthens economic growth:
California’s Green Policies Have Created 1.5 Million Jobs And Added $45 Billion To The Economy. According to a University of California report, “California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007,” while keeping per-capita electricity demand 40 percent below the national average. Instead of household income being lost to the capital intensive energy sector, “induced job growth has contributed approximately $45 billion to the California economy since 1972.” [“Energy Efficiency, Innovation, and Job Creation in California,” 10/20/08]
A National Green Economy Creates Millions Of New Jobs. According to a Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council study, building a green economy that would cut United States greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030 would create a net 7.8 million jobs versus business as usual. [“Energy [R]evolution,” 3/11/09]
The economy vs. environment myth was debunked ten years ago when MIT found that states with stronger environmental policies “consistently out-performed the weaker environmental states on all the economic measures.” The real choice facing the American public is a green economy that offers jobs, opportunity, and a healthy planet or a gray economy of pollution, debt, and inequity. Maybe it’s time for Gallup to rewrite its questions.